With so many options on the market today it can be had to navigate through the maze of dog foods in a pet shop. Here are some things that you need to consider.
Puppies grow fast! It is important that they do this the right way otherwise the result can be very costly in the future. This is especially true for large breeds and breeds like Labradors that have a high rate of hip and elbow problems. This is the most crucial time in most dog’s life to select the right food.
There is a big difference between the premium dog foods and the rest. Generally premium foods are only stocked by pet shops and stock feed stores etc. While not being able to grab a packet of the shelf at the local supermarket is a pain the effort is well worth it. Generally speaking premium foods create a healthier puppy that grows better, has a shiny healthy coat and produces smaller, firmer and less odorous poo. This is because:
Fewer fillers. These are things that bulk out the food, the end result being your dog needs to eat more for the same amount of nutrition. This means that you need to buy more food so although the packet may be cheaper you will go through it much faster.
Higher levels of key nutrients. Many foods supply basic nutrition, enough to keep them going but not for optimal development. This is often why some dogs have a very dull dry coat. Higher levels of nutrients such as antioxidants make a big difference.
Dental care. Many of the junk foots your dog loves are very soft of crumbly. This does nothing to help keep their teeth scrubbed clean. A good dry food should hold together while your dog’s tooth bites into it, right to the base. Many cheaper alternatives crumble under barley any pressure, cleaning the tip of the tooth but not much else. This is why the size of the kibble is also important. Ideally the kibble should be a little larger than the largest tooth in your dog’s mouth, otherwise it’s not going to get a thorough clean. Consider the cost future anaesthetics and dental procedures when deciding to use a supermarket food!
Better cuts of meat. When a carcass disassembled for meat many cheaper foods use the parts that are left over and unsuitable for human consumption. This includes all the ugly bits we would rather not think about! (often this is termed ‘bi-products) In contrast when reading the packet of premium foods look for statements like ‘High quality lamb protein with natural ingredients’ (Hills), or ‘highest quality Australian chicken’ (Advance).
Where a meat ingredient is present at greater than 5% but less than 20% of the product then the variety name can refer to the meal as being “with” that ingredient”
To make it more confusing…
Packaging can be deceiving.
Compare the statements on premium foods verses supermarket varieties.
Here are some common ones:
- Casserole with beef and gravy
- With real kangaroo
- Ingredients: Meat and meat by-products (from beef, chicken, kangaroo and/or Lamb, and/or poultry by-products.
- Ideal levels of calcium for controlled bone growth
- DHA supports healthy brain development and learning ability
- Optimal levels of Vitamin C+E build immune system protection
- High quality lamb protein with natural ingredients
- Highest Quality Australian Lamb
Be cautious of statements like ‘with’. A dry food that says dog food ‘with’ beef legally only needs to contain 5% beef, where as a beef dry food must contain at least 20%. The term ‘flavour’ can be very misleading, think of a dish cooked with chicken stock; it can be chicken flavour without having any other chicken added.
What food do we recommend at Vet 2 Pet?
The food you choose for your puppy should ideally be a premium food that is suitable to their breed and stage of development.
This means a food that specifies the size of the dog. This is not only for kibble size but it is important for growth. It is vital that large breed dogs are fed a large breed puppy food. If fed one designed for small breeds they may grow too quickly, without laying down bones properly. This results in life long problems which may be severe.
A premium quality food that suits your pets activity level and health. In general consider a light food for overweight dogs, a senior food for older pets and a dental food for pets where dental issues are developing. For animals that are frequently itchy a sensitive skin diet may be appropriate. For more info feel free to call us to discuss the needs of your pet!
How much should I feed?
Follow the packet guidelines as every food is different. These guidelines are generally written for very active animals and may need to be adjusted if weight management becomes a concern.
When should I change from puppy to adult food?
Again, it is a good idea to consult your specific foods guidelines, however generally a good rule of thumb is to feed puppy food for around the first 12 months of their life.
Should I feed a wet food?
A quality dry food is completely balanced. Think of wet food more as a treat, Thus also saves a lot of money as when you buy wet food you are paying more for a lot less nutrients as much of the can is water.
Can we recommend some brands? Where do I get more information?
Below is a list of the most common premium foods we see our customers using. The list is by no means exhaustive however and new foods appear on the market regularly. Each logo will link to the company’s webpage, all of which has heaps of information.